Latest News

The Yanks Are Coming!

During 2022, I plan to share a few posts on my Facebook Page about what was happening in Northern Ireland 80 years ago, specifically in relation to the arrival of the US military.

#OTD1942

By way of background:

Plans had been developed as early as April 1941 for the United States of America to send troops to the UK, should the USA enter the Second World War.

In June of that year, 350 civilian workers from G.A. Fuller-Merritt Chapman Corporation (an American firm) arrived in Northern Ireland to begin building naval bases at Londonderry (Base No.1) for the refueling and repair of destroyers and submarines, and Lough Erne for PBY Catalina flying boats.

in July, members of the Special Observer Group made a first visit to Northern Ireland, looking at existing infrastructure and making recommendations about potential sites for US military sites. The Group submitted its first report in September, recommending that a depot be established at Langford Lodge to carry out maintenance repairs for American aircraft.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and the subsequent declaration of war on the USA by Germany a few days later, brought America into the war.

On 17 Dec, Major General James E. Chaney submitted a report on his review of the situation following American entry into the war, and specifically referenced a plan to send 33,421 American troops to Northern Ireland.

This cohort of troops will be designated by the codename MAGNET Force.

The friendly “invasion” of Northern Ireland is imminent!

Follow the Tour’s Facebook Page for regular updates on the 80th anniversary of key events.

Image: Washington County Free Library Photo WCRH018. Part of the General Russell P Hartle Collection. American troops from 34th Infantry Division en route to Northern Ireland on board the British troop ship HMTS Strathaid. Photo taken in February 1942. Copyright United States Signal Corps.

Tour content update

Well, Hello 2022!

As 2021 draws to a close, I would like to wish you all a Happy & Prosperous New Year.

Despite you-know-what, I had a pretty special year for my Tours. Despite not running any just-turn-up Tours (I decided the safest option was to ask all Tours to be pre-booked in advance) I still took more tours than I expected. There were a few notable ones too: the remarkable folk from the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen Association (BLESMA); the participants from the Men United project in Belfast; and those who joined me on the couple of Tours (in the pouring rain!) as part of the NI100 commemoration. Thank you to all who joined me.

Thanks

A special shout-out to the Northern Ireland Lottery Heritage Fund for their support this year. Their grant, as part of the COVID recovery project, helped me purchase more WW2-era memorabilia, upgrade my website and ensure my Tours were COVID safe.

Finally, I can’t miss out the fantastic help offered by Mid & East Antrim Council. In particular, the Tourism, Business Development and Museum ladies (they know who they are!). Their enthusiasm for what they do, and their regular check-ins to make sure I was getting every available help and encouragement, was invaluable during the pandemic.

Looking Ahead

I’m now looking forward to 2022. It will mark eighty years since the friendly “invasion” from across the Atlantic. The official arrival of military personnel from the United States changed the culture of Northern Ireland – music, food, fashion, and romance! I plan to organise a few special activities during the year to highlight the impact our American visitors had on the town.

This anniversary, however, does not mean I’ll be neglecting the core elements of my Tour. You will still find out about Air Raid Precautions; Rationing; the reconfiguration of Factories to make parachutes, tanks, life-jackets, uniforms and more; changes to the town’s infrastructure; the establishment of Army Camps; the creation of a Military Prison; the role of women volunteers; the local consequences of the Belfast Blitz; and, of course, the formation and onward journey of the US Rangers.

New Stuff

If you have any suggestions about topics you would like included in future Tours, or any comments in general, I’d be delighted to read them.

As well as Guided Walking Tours, I can also deliver talks to Groups, and set up a display of my WW2-era memorabilia. These talks can be adapted to suit your requirements, so the earlier you get in touch with me to discuss options the better.

Keeping in Touch

I’ll provide updates on events and activites throughout the year on the Tour’s Facebook page. I know Facebook has its own way of deciding what to put into your News Feed, so the only way to make sure you find out about what’s happening with my Tour is to make this page one of your favourites. This link may help you do that: https://m.facebook.com/help/371675846332829

So, onward to 2022, whatever that may bring.

Latest News

Winter Update

Tours

With the winter months now on the horizon, it’s impractical to offer Guided Walking Tours more than a day or two in advance, as many of my artifacts are too fragile to be exposed to poor weather conditions. That said, if you would like me to organise a Tour, and spot a decent short-term weather forecast, please get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.

Presentations

I can come to a venue of your choosing to deliver a Presentation, including a small exhibition. Although my area of expertise is how the town of Carrickfergus was impacted by the Second World War, my Presentation provides a good introduction to those interested in examining their own wartime heritage: family, community, and/or locality.

The Second World War affected everyone and everywhere, but many of the local stories from this period need to be brought back to the fore. I can share my own journey of discovery, and help you prepare for doing the same.

If you are interested in a Presentation, please contact me to begin making arrangements. Presentations can be tailored to suit your requirements.

Tour content update, Tour Dates Update

April Re-Start

Fingers crossed, brighter times are ahead.

I’m now one of the growing minority (soon to be the majority) of people who have had the COVID vaccine. I’m hoping this will be a significant step towards a return to normality – or as close to that as possible.

From my Guided Walking Tour’s perspective, I’ve put in a shed-load of effort during the lockdown to make sure I can begin meeting new Guests, and sharing the story of my hometown as it was during the Second World War.

Busy bee, busy me

Anyone who knows me will have often heard me say “every day is a school day”, and I’ve been true to my word. I’ve completed online classes in Customer Care, Social Media for Business and am part-way through a Tour Guiding course.

I’ve also had a lot of support from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council through their Storify my Business and Digital Boost programmes, regular check-ins from their Tourism folk and timely emailed updates.

Thanks to some financial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I’ve been able to track down and purchase some exhibits to show Tour Guests; invest in some audio equipment so that Guests can maintain Social Distancing and still hear me; bought licences from National Museums NI for a few wartime photos which I will be able to share on my website and social media channels; and upgraded my website (though I’m still tinkering with it, so it will change a bit over the next few weeks).

Starting Soon….

Bottom line is that I hope to be in a position to re-start Tours in April, subject to appropriate guidance. Safe to say I’m excited about the possibility of recommencing Tours.

The best way to keep informed about my Tours is to either check in with my website now and again, or follow my Facebook Page.

Additionally, I’ve looked at the content of my Tour, and the exhibits I now have, and think there is enough there to be able to offer presentations to groups (once we are allowed to meet like that again). I’ll update you on this possibility through my website and Facebook Page.

Finally, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions about my Tour, please let me know. I want to keep improving!

Looking forward to meeting new Guests and showing off my hometown.

Adrian

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GIFT VOUCHERS AVAILABLE NOW!

Looking for something different to give to a loved one or friend at Christmas?

I’m offering Gift Vouchers for Private Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, which can be used during 2021.

My Second World War themed Guided Walking Tour is the only one of its type in Northern Ireland. It looks at how one small town in Northern Ireland adapted to wartime conditions.

BACK IN TIME

We all have ancestors who experienced the impact of the Second World War on their lives. My Tour takes you back to that historic period through the eyes of those folk who lived, worked or were stationed in Carrickfergus between 1939 and 1945.

On the Tour you will discover how factories changed production to meet the needs of the War Effort; local people lived with rationing, air raid precautions and the blackout; overseas troops based themselves in and around the town in preparation for entering battlefields on North African and European soil; buildings were re-purposed to become military prisons, stores and accommodation; and how some of the remnants of that time are hidden in plain sight!

GIFT VOUCHER

If you know someone who might enjoy coming on a Private Guided Walking Tour, why not get them a Gift Voucher?

Priced at just £7, it can be used to book a Tour during 2021.

If the Voucher holder wants to bring along additional guests, they can be added at the time of booking for just £7 per person (usually £8).

The Voucher holder can contact me anytime during 2021 to arrange a suitable day and time for their Private Tour.

ORDERING A VOUCHER

To order a Gift Voucher, drop me an email at leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com with your name and postal address, and I’ll reply with payment details.

UK postage & packaging is included in the price.

Order your Voucher by 17 December 2020, to allow sufficient time for postal delivery.

If you live in a BT38 postcode area I can deliver a Voucher personally right up to 23 December 2020 and accept cash on delivery.

If you have any queries about the Voucher or the Tour, please get in touch using the email address above.

Adrian (your personal guide)

Tour content update, Tour Dates Update

New Junior Tour

Over the last few weeks, three Primary School pupils have been on my Tour.

The Second World War is on the Primary school curriculum, and these children have been enthused enough to ask their parents to book a place on the Tour. The feedback has been very positive, but I appreciate that the Standard Tour content may be too detailed and varied to take in at that age.

With that in mind, I am organising Junior Tours over the summer months more specifically aimed at content that more appropriate for pupils in Years 4-7.

NOTE: Children on the Tour must be accompanied by an Adult. If from the same household, more than one child can be accompanied by a single adult

The Tour will look at events that happened in, or impacted on, the town of Carrickfergus:

  • Factories that made items used during the war
  • The Belfast Blitz
  • Air Raid precautions, including the issuing of gas masks
  • The American Army in Carrickfergus
  • The buildings adapted or built to support the military in Carrickfergus
  • Rationing and the Home Front

This Tour Route is around a mile in length and takes just over an hour to complete. This version is specifically for Primary School pupils plus a responsible adult to accompany them.

Advice for young children (Year 3 or younger) – if I am honest, the Junior Tour may not be suitable, and the Standard one definitely isn’t. There is quite a lot of information shared on both Tours, and I am not sure that a very young child would find this sufficiently interesting. That said, I will leave it up to the main carer of such a young child to decide if they want to bring them on a Tour. In such circumstances, children of this age will be made more than welcome and I will not charge for their attendance. If in doubt, get in touch and I can offer more specific advice.

Standard and Junior Tours will be advertised on Eventbrite, but I am also very open to requests to put on a Tour on other dates and times.

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YouTube Channel

As well as reading a small mountain of books and innumerable pages on the internet while researching content for the tour, I have come across quite a few interesting and useful videos on YouTube.

I thought I would put these together in a collection, so here’s a link to my YouTube Channel: Lead The Way Tour YouTube Channel

The Channel has only 1 video specific to the Tour, at the minute, but if you visit the associated playlist there’s a lot there of interest. Please feel free to subscribe to the Channel to view any more videos I add to it.

If I had to recommend a particular video on the playlist to start you off, it would be A Letter from Ulster (1942).

Enjoy the nostalgia.

Always looking for more…..

If you come across any more videos that you think could be added to that playlist, please contact me with the details.

Tour Dates Update

Winter Tour Arrangements

During the winter period, there are a few changes to how you can join me for a Guided Walking Tour around Carrickfergus.

Scheduled Saturday morning Tours, offered on a “just turn up” basis, will stop after 26 October 2019 and re-start on 29 February 2020.

During this period, Walking Tours will continue to be available on request.

I know that weather conditions may have an impact on your decision to consider a Tour. I don’t mind getting wrapped up to tackle the elements, but it’s not everyone’s idea of fun. For that reason, I am more than prepared to consider requests for a Tour at short notice, so you can factor in the weather forecast. I will do my very best to fit something in for you.

To help with your planning, here are a few useful hints and tips:

  • To get the most from a Tour, it’s best it takes place during daylight hours.
  • I can include a supported visit to the US Rangers Museum where a Tour fits in with their opening times of Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 15:00.
  • My contact details are here: Contact Me
  • Here’s a link to the BBC Weather Forecast: BBC Weather

More details about the Tour, including how to get here and other things you may want to do while in Carrickfergus, are available here: Lead The Way Tour Website

Please note, I will definitely be unavailable for Tours from 21 November through to 9 December.

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Antiques Road Trip

This very popular BBC TV programme made a visit to Northern Ireland recently, and as part of the show it visited the US Rangers Museum in Carrickfergus.

This gave a flavour of the important part Carrickfergus played during the Second World War.

You will find out even more on one of my Tours, but in the meantime, here is a link to that episode of Antiques Road Trip: Antiques Road Trip Series 19, Episode 16

To book one of my Guided Walking Tours, please get in touch.

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Recent Reviews (taken from the Tour’s Facebook Page)

As the Tour season moves towards a slowdown over the winter, I would like to thank those who have already gone on a Tour with me. I have been delighted with the feedback so far.

Here are some examples of what recent guests on my Tour have had to say:

“Just completed the Lead the Way tour…. absolutely brilliant and very informative. Great to learn so much about the wee town where I live and its involvement in the war effort! Couldn’t recommend it highly enough!”

“A fantastic tour around my home town and learnt a lot that I didn’t know in my 28 years living there. Adrian’s knowledge of Carrickfergus as a whole was excellent as well. Highly recommended.”

”Great presentation at a steady pace and very informative. Highly recommended.”

”Did the tour this morning excellent and well worth the wee walk great presentation and delivery I highly recommend it what a wealth of history around this great town .”

Please note that from the end of October until the Spring (exact date will be published closer to the time) there will be no “Just Turn Up” Tours planned.

However, Tours can be offered during this period on request – just get in touch.